Ezra,  Motherhood,  The Preschool Years

in case you think you are the only mom whose 3-year-old is NOT in preschool

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It was two unassuming, non-malicious comments:

The first, yesterday, at Food Lion, when I told the cashier that my son was turning three this weekend.

“Wow! Only three? No way! Is he the tallest in his class?”

Um…Class? What class?

And then there was an email from a lady I met this morning, discussing some Bible study stuff:

“Perhaps the 3 of us could get together during the time your children are in preschool for a short time of sharing over coffee/tea at Panera one day.”

Just two little comments, comments that made assumptions about my family and left me feeling like I was some odd exception. It came on the tails of about three weeks straight of seeing a steady stream of Facebook and Instagram photos and blog posts of friends sending off their babies to preschool.

It’s an exciting yet apprehensive time of year for these moms who choke back tears of pride mingled with sadness as their little ones tottle off with backpacks on their backs.

For the briefest of moments I was starting to wonder if I missed the “Yes, all three-year-olds should, in fact, go to preschool” memo. 

Preschool is amazing. Especially when there are programs that allow young children, especially those with special needs, to learn in a school setting, often for free, at such a young age. I’m thankful that we live in a country where both public schools and churches can open up their doors to provide amazing preschool programs to families.

I’m proud of the moms who have made the sometimes hard decisions to send their young ones into a school setting. I know that there are many circumstances and reasons that these families make these decisions. We’re all in this together and moms are just trying to do the best that they can for the children God has entrusted to them.

So don’t think that by writing this post I’m somehow knocking down moms of 3-year-old preschoolers. Because I love them and some of them are my closest friends.

I just wanted to write this post for the other moms: the ones who think their kids are too young, whose states don’t offer free preschool, who can’t afford it, who aren’t ready to send their kids, or who just don’t want to.

It can be isolating to feel like you are the only mom who isn’t getting 3 free hours to herself in the mornings. 

So let me just assure you – you aren’t.

I thought that for a split second. I was jealous. Frustrated. Frazzled. But then I had some good friends assure me that I’m not alone, just like I’m assuring you know.

It can be anxiety-inducing to wonder if your kid is missing out on some special opportunity that could help him develop. 

Yes. Just being honest here. I worry about my kid. I worry about him becoming too self-absorbed, not learning how to share or play nice with other kids, watching too much TV, or struggling with potty training because he’s not in preschool.

So let me just assure you – you aren’t alone in your worries.

It can be hard to find new ways to entertain your energetic child day in and day out, new ways to play cars and teach letter sounds. 

So let me assure you – you aren’t alone in wanting a break.

It can be frustrating to have to take your child grocery shopping with you because you don’t have the luxury of time without him. 

So let me assure you – you aren’t the only mom letting your three-year-old play on the carts at Costco, watching him climbing on top of the car cart at Food Lion (and getting scolded by the store workers), and giving him animal crackers and suckers so he will sit down in the cart.

costco

You and me? We have our reasons for keeping our children at home. Our family’s reasons have to do with a mid-September birthday, Ezra not being potty trained, and not having the finances to send our child to preschool – along with simply not feeling like he’s ready. Our reasons are valid and so are yours.

So will you join me in enjoying your three-year-old at home this year – in embracing every day that you have with him? Will you give yourself grace on those days that your child watches a little too much Netflix so you can get housework done? Will you go to the park with that child and watch those little legs run with energy while you breathe it all in? Will you read books and take trips to the library and try to teach letters and numbers and colors and shapes and new words in your own special way? Will you play cars and trucks (or princesses and baby dolls) and try to foster creativity within yourself instead of being begrudging and resentful with your time, wishing that someone else could do it for you? Will you make a commitment to teach and train your child – whatever that means for you, whatever it looks like in your home – with joy and thankfulness?

I’m not saying that it’s going to easy. Not for you, not for me.

A lot of days I look at the idea of preschool as some wonderful fantasy that could keep me a lot saner if only I had the means. And some days I’m even jealous of the people who have that opportunity.

But the reality is that we have made this choice. And it’s the best choice for our family, for our Ezra. It’s where God has us, and it’s okay.

in case you think you're the only mom whose three-year-old is NOT in preschool

And your choice to keep your three-year-old home? It’s the best choice for your family, and for your child. It’s where God has you. And it’s okay.

 

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35 Comments

  • sjm

    Thank you for writing this! I, too, have struggled with those feelings lately. Keeping my one-week-shy-of-3 son home with me is what’s best for our family. But I did feel a little wistful, seeing all the cute first-day-of-school pics.

  • heartsonguard

    Wonderful post today Aprille! We have our boy in preschool (he’ll be 4 next month), but I initially started him in a mom’s day out program when he was almost 3 just so I could have that time with the new baby. It was a God-send. But, it wasn’t free. And the preschool we have him in now is expensive, even with the military discount. It is a tough decision, and I wish we could have him home more and not have to spend 10 hrs/day in preschool and/or daycare. But life is what it is, and we do the best we can. 🙂

  • mithriluna

    Where’s your “like” button? 🙂 None of my kids went to preschool at 3. To me, sending them to pre-k at 4 years old was sufficient and enough preparation for school. They learned plenty at home plus I loved having my kids at 3 home with me. I know it’s cliche but God gives you the grace every moment of every day and even though it was a challenge to entertain a 3 year old all day long, it was also an opportunity to receive grace and joy. God bless you.

  • The Person Next to You

    We’ve always homeschooled our son… We get questions a lot when we’re out in the world during the day, “Oh is there no school today?” — Um, I don’t know, we homeschool. 😉

    No matter what people choose to do, there is always someone to make some kind of comment…

  • Anonymous

    “It’s where God has us and it’s ok.”
    Love it! As the mom of a special needs 3 year old who just started homeschooling, I am always looking for a one-liner for people who get snarky with me when they find out our choice. I’ve been saying, “it’s a decision that is best for our family,” but ultimately it IS where God has us right now… And I wouldn’t change a thing! Thanks for the encouraging post… Sometimes, it feels like being the odd-mom out!

  • Dana Butler

    Ah-HA! Another non-preschooling fam! Yup – Isaac’s not potty trained yet either – just not QUITE ready… And I can’t imagine finding a preschool that would take him pre-that. We may do preschool like 2 mornings a week at some point… but perfectly glad having him with me for now. 🙂 It’s where God has us – yup. Good to know we’re not alone. 🙂 (Shared this on FB – thanks so much for it!)

    • Aprille

      Ezra is pretty much pee-trained but not accident-free and still won’t tell people when he has to go. If you take him every 30-min to hour or so he will stay dry all day and is exclusively in underware. But he poos either first thing in the morning or at naptime and I’m at a loss as to how to train him to poop yet, so I haven’t even really tackled it recently and keep him in diapers for naptime and night-time! Most schools have a policy that they have to be completely potty trained and I have no idea when that will happen!

  • Anonymous

    I’m a preschool teacher, and I applaud you! Kids are going to be in school for a LOT of years. Boys especially benefit from being able to run and play outside at will, instead of being in a classroom. There aren’t that many skills they will learn at 3 that they can’t pick up in a play group, in a Sunday school class, or just when they get to school in due time. Enjoy him and the wonder of a 3-year-old mind. You should be his primary teacher at this point in his life. I get so many whose parents haven’t even TRIED. “That’s what preschool is for…”

  • Gabrielle

    I’ve felt that way so many times over the past few years. In my town and in my circle of friends, moms send their babies off to Mothers Day Out and then Preschool pretty early–some as infants and some as toddlers. By the time the kids are two, few children are at home with mom. And that’s fine–for them. Just not for me. I love having my babies at home, though every once in a while, I think that if I were like everyone else, I would only have one at home with me instead of three, and life would be so much easier. 🙂 Maybe so…but I know that this is what God has called me to, and that’s what gives me the grace to get through the tough days of juggling kids who are 4, 2, and 1.

  • stultsmamaof4

    I read the title of this post and had to laugh. We’re not preschooling our four-year-old twins, either. 🙂 They get to do school at home with mama this year. We made that decision mostly for financial reasons, but I’m actually looking forward to it (mostly)! The nice thing about twins is that they have a built-in playmate. I’m vising you from Fellowship Fridays.

  • planted oak

    “It can be anxiety-inducing to wonder if your kid is missing out on some special opportunity that could help him develop”…. the root of so many parents over-filling their older kids schedules and over-extending their budgets. to not miss out. and yet often, they begin to miss out on what matters even more. their family… their rest… sometimes even their god. ‘brava’ aprille for reminding us that sometimes it can be best to “miss out”. xoxo –kris

    • Aprille

      Thank you so much for sharing! You are so right! I try to keep activities to a minimum while still giving him a lot of time to play and interact with other children. Right now we do things twice a week (mommy Bible studies and groups) that have a very good childcare program where they do crafts and projects – and he also goes to childcare at the gym an hour or two a week, but that’s about it. And the occasional playdate! All the rest we do at home.

  • Sarah (theGIRL)

    My almost four year old is also not in preschool….and neither my husband nor I went to preschool (Gasp!)

    This is truth:

    “But the reality is that we have made this choice. And it’s the best choice for our family, for our Ezra. It’s where God has us, and it’s okay.”

    • Aprille

      I went to preschool before Kindergarten but it was a very low-key program. I’d have to ask my mom but I think it only met like twice a week in the mornings. And it may have only been a summer program (I remember playing outside a lot and we lived in NE Ohio so it must have been summer!) And my Kindergarten was GASP! HALF DAY!

      And I think I turned out very well. 🙂

  • halleebridgeman

    Societally, we are in such a hurry to rid ourselves of our children. ..often to the detriment of children. It’s preschool, not high school. There is NO benefit to sending a toddler away from home to “learn”. There’s no social, mental, nor emotional bonus to it. At 3, the social “needs” are met interacting with family.
    My children THRIVE in school, and my kindergartner reads at a 3rd grade level, does simple addition and subtraction in his head, leads in the classroom, and works well with others. Where was he at 3? Watching Barney while I vacuumed around his chair.
    I think our society is going to ultimately pay the price for the careless way we throw our kids at others for them to be taken care of and trained.

    Hallee

  • Lovely Messes

    My first went to preschool but my second didn’t and both choices were right at the times I made them so I think you just need to do what’s best for your family. It’s yet to be seen what will happen when our baby girl is old enough. I think he’s perfectly fine with you at home!!

  • karrileea

    Grace… I love that you extend it to both Mama’s out there… the ones WITH PreSchoolers and the ones without! Our girlie is in college now and at 3… there was just no. way. but at 4… well – she needed it and God opened up the right place… (She was so shy and wouldn’t use her words… she was/is an Only and needed the social interaction… it was hard on us both… but it was the best choice for us!) I love that you point out (and the other commenters here too) how it is a personal choice and we must choose what is best for our own family!

  • katemotaung

    You dealt with this topic very graciously, and I appreciated your honesty and encouragement to moms in all situations. Keep pressing on, motherhood is a tiring job, but has eternal value! Blessings to you and your family ..

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